A Commonwealth Court judge has affirmed an order by the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission that upholds the ejection of jockey Orlando Bocachica from the grounds of Philadelphia Park after he admitted to using a battery on numerous occasions during morning training hours, but not during an actual race.
Bocachica, the second-leading rider at Philly Park as of last week, filed an appeal seeking to overturn the ejection on the grounds he was not read his Miranda rights during an interrogation by the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau and commission representatives. He alleged he was pressured two years ago to sign an admission that said he used a battery during training hours at Monmouth Park, Philadelphia Park, and in Puerto Rico.
Based on tips received both by letter and through the TRPB's telephone hotline, Bocachica and other riders in the 10th race at Philadelphia on June 17, 2003 were searched, but no batteries were found. However, a battery was found later in the search area and was photographed.
Bocachica was brought before commission representatives six days later and interrogated for two hours in both English and Spanish. He was told the battery found had been sent to the FBI for fingerprint analysis and that federal criminal charges could be brought against the person or persons whose fingerprints might be a match.
Bocachica allegedly asked to leave the interrogation to take his pregnant wife to a doctor's appointment, but was told he couldn't.
According to the Court's opinion, "...in a misguided effort to appease his questioners so that they would let him leave he admitted to using a battery in the mornings...so many times that he could not state a specific number of times...and he provided details about his use of the battery (stating) he placed it in his left glove and that he used the battery on the neck of the horse."
He also admitted to using batteries at Monmouth Park five or six times but stopped "after a Panamanian outrider threatened to turn him in."
Commonwealth Court Judge Jim Flaherty stated in his opinion that the Commission's determination that Philadelphia Park's decision to eject Bocachica was based upon a "reasoned determination" that his presence would be detrimental to the public's perception of horse racing and was supported by substantial evidence.
Alan Pincus, Bocachica's lawyer, said he was currently "considering our options" but admitted appealing to Commonwealth Court was our "last best hope" of getting Bocachica's ejection overturned.